Greg Mankiw has trouble with President Obama's use of "sustainability" when referring to the federal budget and deficits. Of course. The s-word has always been a weasel word. The N-gram plot of the word's appearance only takes us to 2008 but shows the steady climb. (Cue to the old joke about that kind of growth not being "sustainable.")
All the old doomsday stories have been wrong because we are not able to make long run forecasts -- let alone policies based on such. But that stops no one. California is only one of many places making dumb "green" energy policies based on feel-good notions about what is "sustainable."
This week's Economist reports that the most recent 15 years of temperature readings cast doubt on the models that the "warming" people had been relying on. "A sensitive matter ... The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away."
Bjorn Lomborg has been imploring us for years to think before we act. "First, Make Green Energy Cheap." It will be used widely once we have figured out how to make it cheaply. There are opportunity costs to mandating its use while it is expensive; we would be doing less trying to figure out how to make it cheap. The other s-word, scarcity, is always in play.